We try to be ecologically conscious in our house. Most of the time we're successful. We've eliminated a lot of extra things, we try to limit our purchase of plastic items, we shop locally, we conserve where we can, and reuse and recycle a lot of things. We've also tried to eliminate a lot of chemicals from the house, primarily in our cleaning supplies. It seems a big chunk of our efforts have been concentrated in the kitchen. Here are some of my favorite tips and items to help green your kitchen. (Note: this post has been updated from a post written in 2012.)
I tried to make dishwasher detergent a few times with different recipes. I never had any success. Sometimes it just didn't clean well; sometimes it left a film on the dishes. I tried and have stuck with the Seventh Generation Dish Packs
which work very well for us. I've been happy since making that switch.
In the kitchen, another favorite is Skoy cloths. I found these amazing little cloths when we stopped using paper towels. They're biodegradable and compostable and best of all, washable. I originally got 2 packages 3 or 4 years ago, and while they're finally getting icky now, I haven't gotten any new ones so far. They are extremely absorbent and we use them for everything from spills in the kitchen to household cleaning. We'll be tossing these into the compost bin soon and buying some new ones and I'm looking forward to stocking up for all the little toddler messes Phee makes.
Speaking of compost, I have the most adorable rooster compost container on the kitchen counter. We have two different compost barrels in our backyard and we rotate them every year. We were using a large old coffee container as a counter top compost pail, but I got this rooster as a gift for Christmas a couple years ago and I love it (it matches my rooster themed kitchen!). If you're thinking of composting, even on a small scale, I recommend getting a counter top compost pail. It's less trips to the big bin and easy for collecting little scraps throughout the day. Plus, you can get them with filters which eliminate any odors that might cause problems.
One of the best eco solutions I've come across is a crocheted sweeper/mop cover. These fit over a Swiffer mop or sweeper and eliminate all the waste associated with Swiffer cleaning cloths. I have two and I love them. I can still use the simple Swiffer stick mop which I had hanging around the house anyway. These are washable and I was able to get them in a fun pink/white/purple yarn. I use a spray bottle with floor cleaner (vinegar and water) to mop the floors. An ingenious solution to messy mops that are always kind of ratty and gross.
When Phee was younger, we had lots of little messes to clean up and no where was as messy as the dinner table. To eliminate using a lot of baby wipes or the dishrag to clean Phee up after a meal, I cut up a bunch of old white t-shirts to make little cleaning cloths. I kept them in a jar on the kitchen counter and could just grab and wet one as needed to clean Phee up. A simple solution using things we already had on hand.
There are so many other things I could add, like making your own cleaners, but these really are my favorite solutions to some of our challenges in achieving a greener house. I'm sure you've got lots of different things you use or do around your house. What items have you found that really help green your cleaning and your house?
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